Cricket, a sport steeped in tradition and history, is set to make a triumphant return to the Olympics after over a century. The LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games have proposed the inclusion of cricket, particularly in the Twenty20 format, marking a significant milestone for the International Cricket Council (ICC). This move is expected to bring economic benefits and unparalleled viewership, particularly in cricket-crazed nations like India.
Cricket Olympics 2028: ICC Triumph & T-20 Inclusion
LA28’s Bold Proposal:
The formal proposal submitted by the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) includes cricket in the Twenty20 format, alongside other sports like baseball/softball, flag football, lacrosse (sixes), and squash. This proposal reflects a bold and holistic approach by LA28, aiming to energize the Games with culturally relevant competition and boundless possibilities.
ICC’s Pursuit of Olympic Inclusion:
The ICC has been actively pursuing Olympic inclusion for cricket, recognizing the global platform it provides for the sport. The LA28 decision represents a significant step forward, with the formal approval anticipated during the IOC session in Mumbai. ICC Chairman Greg Barclay expressed delight at the decision, emphasizing the importance of this landmark towards seeing cricket at the Olympics for the first time in over a century.
Economic Considerations Driving Inclusion:
The inclusion of cricket in the Olympics is not merely a sporting decision but a strategic move driven by economic considerations. The IOC seeks to capitalize on the immense popularity of cricket, especially in cricket-loving nations like India. According to reports, the media rights value of the Olympic Games could skyrocket from $16 million to $200 million with the inclusion of cricket. The potential for an India-Pakistan cricket contest for the gold medal is anticipated to draw over a billion viewers, a level of viewership rarely seen in many Olympic disciplines.
ICC’s Enthusiastic Response:
The ICC promptly welcomed the LA28 decision, recognizing it as a significant step towards realizing the dream of cricket in the Olympics. ICC Chairman Greg Barclay expressed gratitude to LA28 for their support during the evaluation process and looked forward to the final decision at the IOC Session.
BCCI’s Green Light and Historical Hesitations:
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has historically been hesitant about Olympic participation for various reasons. However, a couple of years ago, a special general meeting convened under Jay Shah resulted in the BCCI giving its approval for the inclusion of cricket in the Olympic program. Historically, the BCCI hesitated due to concerns about coming under the umbrella of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and potential commercial losses associated with cricket being part of the quadrennial Games.
As cricket enthusiasts eagerly await the final decision at the IOC Session, the potential inclusion of cricket in the Olympic program represents a groundbreaking moment for the sport. Beyond the playing field, it signifies a strategic move by the IOC to leverage the economic and viewership potential of cricket, making it a win-win for both the Olympic movement and cricket enthusiasts worldwide.